Some 2,000 students from across the region were at Budd Park in Kitchener last week vying for a chance to wear the bright orange or green vest of a safety patroller.
The Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) in partnership with the area fire services, regional EMS, the Waterloo Region District School Board and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board were working together to ensure that safety is a top priority during the school year.Student volunteers ranging from Grade 5 to 8 were participating in the annual school safety patroller program, which provides training on assisting children to cross streets safely, bus evacuation procedures, as well as instruction in basic first aid.
These training sessions are provided each September to help set a tone around the importance of safety throughout the school year.
On school buses the patrollers deal with getting students to and from school safely by helping other students’ board and exit the bus. They make sure the aisle is clear and they know some basic first aid like how to deal with nose bleeds and sick kids.
“The bus patrollers are shown how to deal with behavioural issues. Basically they are the bus drivers’ right-hand man so that the bus driver can concentrate driving the bus while the patrollers deal with any issues that may arise,” said Catherine Wilkinson, special events coordinator with regional police.
The fire department was on site to demonstrate to the new patrollers how to evacuate a school bus properly while helping others get out safely if there was an accident or fire on the bus.
“These kids demonstrate good leadership qualities and we encourage them to be polite and courteous to other students and show respect. They are not there to be bossy. These kids have demonstrated the ability to deal with problems and are good with other kids,” said Wilkinson.
The standing patrollers help their school mates cross the road at each of the crossing points around the schools in the region.
Police officers were on hand to demonstrate to the students how to safely cross the street with other students. The patrollers were taught the holding position, keeping students back from the street and making sure the roads are clear and safe before they allow the students to cross.
The street patrollers are there to assist adult crossing guards who work busy intersections.
Upon completion of the program, the new patrollers will be seen at their posts around school areas wearing their safety vests.
“We tell them that it is important to wear the vests just like a police officer wears their uniform so that other kids can identify them.”